Opinion: Two faux pas affecting your writing

Rachel Godin

Rachel Godin

Rachel Godin is a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Rachel Godin at [email protected]

Each year, university writing courses ask us to find meaning in content and in doing so, find our own unique writing voice. Maria Antoniou and Jessica Moriarty, in Teaching in Higher Education, address academic writing’s stereotype as an “intellectual and professional task, rather than one which involves the whole of the writer’s self.” The authors understand that for many of us this leads to “difficulty and disenchantment with the writing process.” The issue is multifaceted but success is possible. We must learn how to orient ourselves with both our professional and creative sides while fulfilling expectations to be objective and original. Each of us has experienced the world through completely different perspectives. This can serve as incentive for us to learn how to cultivate our writing skills, since each of us has the potential to say something completely unique, regardless of how blasé or irrelevant our assignments may occasionally seem. If you want to exhibit your best work, acknowledging these two writing faux pas can lead you down the path to finding your unique voice and conveying a clearer messages in your creative work.

Avoid the Pastiche. Pastiche is this trend of imitating the style of another work, artist, or period. As obvious as it seems, sometimes we need to be reminded to delve within ourselves for original voice and content rather than relying on external sources. When creative culture has pastiche leanings, it means there is less original thought being contributed. We’ve become great cultural montagers; taking pieces of culture and using them as personal identifiers. Examples of this trend are most obvious in the recent box office releases, pop music remixes, and current trends in book themes. Finding success as a pastiche persona means getting round-two admiration that the original art form attained. Respect those who’ve come before you, but don’t try to completely emulate them. Postmodernism and Consumer Society’s author Frederic Jameson likens pastiche culture to “parody that has lost its sense of humor” and goes so far as to argue that pastiche culture will fail the creative community because “essential messages will involve the necessary failure of art and the aesthetic, the failure of the new, the imprisonment in the past.” Eloquently piecing together the thoughts of others will always come second to being an original contributor.

Narcissism. One of the most satisfying emotions in the world is the one that sweeps over you once you have completed a piece of creative work. Essay, song, manuscript, or performance; you know when you’ve done something justice. Now, before you go allow your ego to inflate, tell yourself this: all you did was accept that you had creative instinct and decided you had the obligation to fulfill it. Elizabeth Gilbert, writer of Eat, Pray, Love did a TED talk in 2009 that addressed the importance of appreciating your artistic genius as being a separate entity from you. She reminded us that the Greeks believed that creativity came from a distant, unknowable source called a daemon. When an artist would finish a work of genius, others would give thanks to the creative energy that inspired him rather than claim to have been the sole perpetrator of excellence. Having the correct amount of artistic control allows you not to get in the way of your work.